Advice & Tips From What I've Learnt Producing Business Videos

Being Successful at Producing Corporate Videos

Recently, I got asked "How have you become successful at producing corporate videos?" It's a good question.

For sure, the corporate world is one I'm very comfortable in, having spent 20 years working for large organisations all over the world in my previous scientific career - if anyone is interested, see a brief summary
HERE. I understand some of the complex issues that can exist in big corporates and, certainly, my scientific background has been a highly useful when making films with hi-tech clients, especially here around Cambridge. But I think I've been successful in corporate video production because I've attracted (or been attracted to) individuals in companies that share some of my values - successful enough to have made over 500 business films and still be in business myself 8 years on!

So what values do I have that might be important?

Sure, I have a creative streak that's imperative in what I do now. Clients sometimes are, but very often are not, creative types. They will rely on me to show their business, products or services in a captivating way regardless. And that does not just mean the visual side of things. As well as spending time selecting the best sound bites and cut away shots I'm often using carefully chosen, high quality copyright free/royalty free music backing tracks to help create the right mood and flow in the edit too.

Technology! As any modern video professional knows, keeping abreast of ever-changing and often complex video technologies is important. Indeed, being highly knowledgable about computers, software, firmware updates, cameras, colour science, lenses, monitors, audio gear and techniques, lighting and techniques, codecs, web technologies etc. is essential. Sure, I love all this stuff anyway - and the amazing video production capabilities it brings - but there is no point having "all the gear and no idea!" That's why I'm always doing tests with any new equipment to fully understand it's strengths and limitations before I ever use it in front of a paying client.

But creativity - and technical knowledge - nay competence, are simply not enough to be successful as a Corporate Videographer. Rock-solid reliability and a responsible, professional approach are prerequisites. Clients know they can totally rely on me to turn up on time, do what I said I was going to do, do it well, and then deliver the finished film by their agreed deadline (which can sometimes be very tight). Being highly organised helps ensure I meet both the time and budget goals that my clients have.

But in the real world things sometimes do go wrong, take longer to produce (client's schedules keep changing, or whatever) despite the very best of planning and preparation on all sides. So being totally honest and transparent if issues do occur is highly valued. Being extremely practical is another important asset too, especially since I'm lucky enough to be good at thinking on my feet should anything not go to plan!

Communicating with clients in a no-nonsense, open manner has earned me a lot of respect over the years - and for sure has meant many become repeat or indeed regular customers. A black and white "everyone knows what's happening" approach saves a lot of time and hassle. It's important to keep clients updated where I'm at with "their" projects on a regular basis - especially during the post-production phase. Furthermore, I make sure people are really happy with their new film as it evolves to Final Cut and the way I involved them in creating that - so that they really do feel it's theirs, not mine. This means they are far more likely to recommend me to their business contacts in the future, internally and externally. Indeed, almost all my work comes via these direct word of mouth recommendations. Always keep your customers happy!

I regard myself as a pretty sociable animal, even personable(!) and I'm very pleased to say some of my big corporate clients really do regard me as one of their team. They trust my integrity and I certainly enjoy the friendships that come when working in groups I'm often co-opted into during client film projects. Sure, sometimes projects only last a few weeks, but they can run over many months and involve filming at multiple sites, especially with some multinationals. I'm on NDA's (non-disclosure agreements) with some clients and they know they can trust me totally (for example, I do a lot of high profile corporate marketing and technology update communications - films that will never, ever reach the public domain). Indeed, the mutual team support that develops when working with my regular clients helps balance the hours and hours spent alone in front of multiple monitors in my studio whilst I edit - I'm typically out filming 1 or 2 days a week, editing the rest of the time.

Being good with people is not juts a major success factor in what I do; it's critical. You really need to know how to keep people calm as you mic them up and sort out the lighting, especially if they are nervous about being filmed - which is of course almost everyone! I genuinely want to try and help people come across well to camera, to really shine when explaining what their business, product or service is all about. I'm not phased by seniority either, I can usually get on well with everyone from the CEO to the guy driving the fork lift truck. If they are in the film, each and every person deserves all the help I can give. I try and make filming fun too - sometimes it's even hilarious! Giving people time by not putting unrealistic time pressure on their spots to camera helps a lot. If it takes 25 takes, so be it! Patience is certainly a virtue and I'm repeatedly told I have bucket loads of it. One guy I filmed recently needed over 200 takes. It was for a 1-minute film - you do the maths!

Other things? I've always been very hands-on, which is just as well as I can't afford a camera assistant, yet seem to have acquired a ton of gear these last few years! Note to self: Stop buying new gear and Shooting Image Ltd might become moderately profitable! I've definitely got a "get stuck-in and get on with it" type approach. Having a thick skin also helps a lot in this business, especially when you get some crass re-edit requests! Knowing when to be flexible and when to say no is important.

Weaknesses - yes, got a few of those! I'm not really a "natural businessman" but that's something you just have to pick up as you go along. I'll never be an expert sales or marketing person, accountant, web site designer etc. but I did a little bit of training in sales a few years ago, and more recently in marketing. Being in several Cambridge area business networking groups has certainly helped me meet some great people to learn from. It also provides a terrific support network from the good friends you make along the way - and hey, I even get some film jobs out of it too.

I'm certainly having fun doing something I love - being a Corporate Videographer - and maybe some of the above explains why!